Texas Couple Searches For Histories Behind Architectural Remains

Their exhibit, “Bones Of Texas,” is made up of photos and stories gathered during about 10,000 miles of Texas travels.

By Laura RiceJune 7, 2021 1:34 pm,

Morgan Page and Dustin Rice began their project during a date early in their relationship. They don’t predict it will have an ending. “Bones Of Texas” is currently on display at the Red River Valley Pioneer Museum in Canadian, and will travel to the Red River Valley Museum in Vernon.

“It’s a combination of boredom and, you know, natural desire to go out and explore.” – Dustin Rice

“I’m always trying to look for traces of the humans that were there. … When you actually go to the town and stop and look around, you come upon different characters, really fascinating people.” – Morgan Page

Image courtesy Morgan Page.

“The idea for the writing really came from one particular visit … through a place called Fort McKavett. And there was a nice gentleman there who’s a historian and presenter there that presented a particular coincidence that the officers’ quarters there was a hotel that burned down, and it happened to burn down on Dec. 7, 1941 because everybody left to go listen to the radio coverage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. And that coincidence got me thinking about all the other images that we have taken and all the places that we visited and all the events that have taken place in those places.” – Dustin Rice

Fort McKavett II, The Fire (From ‘Bones of Texas’)
A bitter chill was fighting to get in. The 90-year-old hotel was drafty to say the least. It was a repurposed Union officer’s quarters from Fort McKavett, which was never been intended to be luxurious. Every room, neatly dressed and complete with a fire box to tend, was enough to keep Joshua busy all hours of the day and night. The key was to keep the coals going without a wicking flame. Sparks were the enemy, as each pop hidden in his logs held potential doom. Mr. Riggens, the old man who took over the Fort McKavett Hotel gave him this job, a responsibility which meant more than the dollar a day he put in his pocket. He was now obligated with keeping his new home safe, keeping the fire at bay.
That Sunday was no different than most, at first. Life at the fort was relaxed, and to see some men running to the hall, others shouting, something was happening and Josh wanted to know what. He finished his rounds of tending fireboxes as quick as he could and headed out the back door and across the 200-yard parade ground that saw so many drills and formations all those years ago. 
Military shifted to civilian 58 years earlier. The mess hall, once the center of the soldier’s daily lives became a meeting hall. It was a community center of sorts where town functions played out and gatherings took place. It also housed the best radio in the county, and on that day, someone heard a newsman break in with a story. 
It couldn’t have even been 15 minutes that Joshua was listening, he had taken longer breaks than that and he had been away to tend other chores for longer. What he hadn’t done before was get careless. In his hurry to see what all the clamor was about he’d left his last firebox open. 
In the first five minutes a spark popped and the ancient cypress floor timber took flame. The next five saw the flames take the furniture and head to the cypress shingles. The next five proved fatal. By the time anyone saw the flames it was too late. The building was gone. The news of the attack on Pearl Harbor had ended old limestone Officer’s Quarters. It was December 7, 1941.

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